Adeel Shaikh

Retinal Tears & Retinal Detachment

Retinal tears and detachments are sight-threatening conditions that should be treated urgently. Although retinal detachments usually happen in individuals over 40 years of age, it can happen at any stage in your life. It is more prevalent among males as compared to females. It is estimated that 1 out of every 300 individuals will experience a retinal detachment at some point during their life.

The retina is a very thin layer of nerve tissue that lines the inside of the eye. This nerve layer is essential to capture light and images and for sight. If the retina separates from the underlying layer then that is known as a retinal detachment. This condition needs to be fixed promptly.  

Treatment: Retinal Tears and Retinal Detachment

The most widely recognized reason resulting in a retinal detachment starts with separation of the vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye, called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). As the PVD happens then in some cases it might pull on the retina to cause retinal tears. Retinal tears result in the liquid to go behind the retina and cause separation from the underlying surface. This condition is known as retinal detachment and can cause serious vision loss if left untreated.

Retinal detachments and retinal tears are treated with a surgical procedure. Different surgical techniques can be used depending on the type of retinal detachment. With present-day methods, there is more than 90% likelihood of successful reattachment. Sometimes a subsequent treatment is required. The visual outcome may not be known immediately after the procedure and it will depend on different variables. Visual outcomes are ideal if the retinal detachment is fixed before  the center part of the retina, the macula, is detached

Retinal Laser or Retinal Cryotherapy:

Retinal tears and breaks can be treated with either laser medical procedure or a freezing therapy called cryotherapy. During laser medical procedure, little laser spots are applied around the retinal tear to “weld” the retina into place. Cryotherapy freezes the territory around the tear and helps shield the retina from detaching. These procedure are usually done in the office.


Tiny cuts are made in the sclera (white part of the eye), and little instruments are inserted into the eye to reattach the retina. A laser is applied around the retinal tears to keep it in place. A gas bubble is then injected into the eye to put tension on the retina to help keep it in place and give laser time to work. During the recovery the regular liquid of the eye replaces the gas in the eye. This procedure is typically done in the operating room with local anesthesia and light sedation.

Scleral Buckle:

A silicone band is applied to the outside of the eyeball to delicately push the white part of the eye against the retinal detachment. During this method, cryotherapy or laser is additionally used to help hold the retina in place. This medical procedure is typically done in the operating room under local anesthesia and light sedation or general anesthesia.

Pneumatic Retinopexy:

A little gas bubble is injected into the eye that pushes the retina back in place. Laser or cryotherapy is then used to seal the retinal tear and help hold the retina in place. This medical procedure is usually performed in the office settings under local anesthesia. Recovery time is a lot faster with pneumatic retinopexy but not all patients are good candidates for this procedure.